Archive for the ‘Tyler Clippard’ Category

Roark Punishes The Reeling Reds

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

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Tanner Roark was all smiles when he walked off the mound after the 7th inning in Cincinnati last night, and for good reason. The young Washington righty was on his way to his tenth victory of the season, with the only thing left for the Nats to do was to call on one of baseball’s best bullpen to nail down the victory.

And that’s precisely what happened. Tyler Clippard came on the 8th to throw a 1-2-3 inning, while closer Rafael Soriano pitched the 9th inning to notch his 24th save of the season. And so that Nationals rolled to a 4-1 victory — winning for the seventh time in nine games and solidifying their tenuous place atop the National League East.

While Roark was supported by a 12 hit Washington attack (Denard Span was 4-5 and Anthony Rendon 2-4), this game was Roark’s. The righty gave up just three hits, struck out six and walked just one.

“It’s pretty cool just to think about,” Roark said of his performance during the 2014 campaign. “You dream ever since you’re a kid of getting to the big leagues. I took the opportunity and tried to run away with it.”

The Nationals attack victimized Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon, who has struggled since the All Star break. In particular, Simon just couldn’t seem to master Span who, in addition to four singles, stole a base and knocked in a run. Span is 9 for 18 on Washington’s road trip with two four-hit games.

“He’s been great,” Nationals’ manager Matt Williams said of his star centerfielder. “The key for him is hitting the ball back through the middle. We’ve seen that over the last week or so, hitting the ball up the middle or the other way.”

The Reds, on the other hand, are in desperate need of a speedy singles hitter and a little bit of power. Since Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips went on the disabled list, Cincinnati has suffered a singles and power outage that has dimmed their prospects in the N.L. Central.

Reds fans are feeling it. “The Redlegs played like utter garbage,” Red Reporter intoned after the loss, “while the Senators looked bored. This game ain’t showing up on any¬†This Week in Baseball highlight reels any time soon, unless they make a tape of ‘Least Impressive RBI Singles in Baseball History.’”

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We admit — we’ve been a tad bit remiss in posting, but it’s not like we’re sitting at the beach. We’ve been involved in other issues over the last days, and realize that we have a bit of catching up to do. That said, it’s not like we’re not paying attention . . .

For instance. We note with some pride that what we’d said about the Reds just a day or two ago, has turned out to be true. They just can’t hit. A trade for Marlon Byrd now seems in the offing, though the Phillies must be salivating on what they’ll get for him now that the Redlegs are turning desperate . . .

Unless, of course, the Reds stand pat: Which would be the equivalent of waving the white flag. That appears to be what the Red Sox have done, though perhaps with something less than the finality that seems to infect the uncertain Cincinnati front office

Yesterday, the Red Sox swapped Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants for two pitching prospects, which is an admission that it’s time to look to the future in Boston. Last year was a feel good story for the Red Sox, but this year is a lot less so, though the Boston press (lacking a real hook on which to hang the Sox) keeps touting Brock Holt, the next best thing in Beantown . . .

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Werth, Nats Trounce The Phils — Head To The Break

Monday, July 14th, 2014

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Jayson Werth is the Nationals hottest hitter in July and he only got hotter on Sunday. Facing off against his old team, the Nationals right fielder showed why he’s “worth” every cent of the contract Washington gave him several years ago, going 2-3 and driving in four runs in the Nationals rout of the Phillies, 10-3.

In a season of injuries to its Opening Day line-up, Werth has been the team’s steadiest and most productive player. And he’s been particularly hot in July, just as the fight for the N.L. East crown has also started to heat up. Werth is 15-40 (.375) with six homers and 19 RBIs since the beginning of the month. Werth’s power and value were on full display in Philadelphia.

Washington’s offensive outburst on Sunday (ten runs, two doubles and two home runs), supported a strong outing from Nats starter Tanner Roark, who rebounded from his last two uneven starts. Roark held the Phillies to just four hits in seven complete innings of work.

“I’m pitching with confidence, and I really didn’t try to nibble,” Roark said of his performance on Sunday. “The changeup was working today. That helped me get out of a jam a couple of times. The changeup was the biggest thing as far as getting ahead.”

The victory kept the Nationals in first place in the N.L. East, with a 51-42 record. The Braves are at 52-43, while the Mets, Marlins and Phillies are at least seven games back. Struggling Philadelphia is in last place, a full ten games off the pace.

“Considering everything that is going on, we are OK,” Nats manager Matt Williams said following his team’s victory. “We are right in the thick of our division. We have a chance. That’s all we could ask for, considering what’s going on. I’m happy about it.”

The Nationals run scoring barrage on Sunday (Denard Span was 2-5, Anthony Rendon 3-5 and Ryan Zimmerman and Werth each hit home runs), put three runs on the board in the first frame, then followed it up with a 4-spot in the 6th. The team added a single run in the 8th and two more in the 9th.

Washington’s hitters took advantage of Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick, with the veteran throwing into the 6th inning, but giving up five runs on five hits. This was the second poor outing in a row against the Nationals for Kendrick, who lost to the Nats back on June 5. The struggling Kendrick took the loss and is now 4-9 on the year.

Phillies hitters were particularly ineffective against Roark, scoring a single run against him in the 6th. The Phillies put two runs on the board in the 9th inning against Washington reliever Aaron Barrett. Ross Detwiler put in another inning of stellar work, shutting the Phillies down in the 8th.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: A much deserving Tyler Clippard was named to the National League All Star team which will played in Minneapolis on Tuesday. This will be Clippard’s second appearance as an All Star. He was on the All Star game in 2011, and picked up the win for the National League . . .

“I’m honored to do it. I feel like the Nationals need some representation,” Clippard said. “Jordan wasn’t able to be there. I was afraid we might not have anybody in uniform, so I’m just happy to go out there and just represent our team and maybe get into a game and see what happens . . . ”

Our opinion is that the National League has the edge in the Home Run Derby competition. The A.L.’s Jose Bautista is a feared participant in these kinds of things, but Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton is our odds-on favorite to win it all. But we’ll watch the Twins Brian Dozier with particular interest, as he’s a relative unknown for both Nats and National League fans . . .

Yesterday, in Colorado, Dozier sent two blasts into the seats at Coors Field, as the Twins knocked down the Rockies, 13-5. Dozier had what has to be pretty close to a career day. He was 3-6 with four RBIs and two home runs, his 17th and 18th on the year . . .

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Nats Win In 16 On Zimmerman Home Run

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

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Ryan Zimmerman’s two run home run in the top of the 16th inning was the difference in Washington’s 4-2 victory over the Brewers on Tuesday night (actually, Wednesday morning) — what went into the books as the longest game in Nationals history. By then, the Nationals had burned through their bullpen, and were set to send Adam LaRoche to the mound in the 17th.

While Zimmerman notched the game winning RBI, the Nationals bullpen was once again stellar. Jerry Blevins, Aaron Barrett, Craig Stammen, Ross Detwiler, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard pitched the near-equivalent of a complete game, ending Milwaukee threats in the bottom of the 13th, 14th and 15th innings.

The Washington Post notes that the game used up “fifteen pitchers and 24 position players” and that “485 pitches were thrown and the teams combined for 111 at-bats.” By the time the game was over, Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann’s solid start (six innings, six hits, nine strike outs) was a fading memory.

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Zimmermann had no-hitter stuff to begin the game, but the Brewers pressed him hard in the fourth and fifth innings. “The fourth and fifth were a little rough,” Zimmermann acknowledged on his outing. “First time through the lineup, I used the fastball and it was good. Second time through, they made some adjustments. I was leaving some balls up. They strung a few hits together.”

While it was Zimmerman who keyed the victory, much of the credit for the win must go to lefty Ross Detwiler, who threw four innings of four hit baseball in relief. It was, by far, Detwiler’s best outing of the year. “Det was above and beyond tonight,” manager Matt Williams said. “Going in, we had some guys that were feeling [tired], so we didn’t want to go to them. Turned out, we had to. Det was fantastic. He really stretched it for us.”

This was a big win for the Nationals, a victory over a tough team with a solid and power-packed line-up. The win kept Washington two games in front of Atlanta in the National League East and, after the Nationals throat gulping performance against the Cardinals, showed that the team can play tough against tough teams.

For the Brewers, on the other hand, the twin losses against the Nationals throw a shadow on a season that, at least so far, has been a dream. But despite the two losses, Milwaukee leads the National League in wins and they remain 4.5 games ahead of the Cardinals in the N.L. Central.

The Brewers loss squandered an excellent outing from Yovani Gallardo, who threw six innings while giving up just four hits. Like Washington, Milwaukee had to depend on its bullpen, with Mike Fiers pitching the last four innings of the marathon game and taking the loss.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs, the doormat of the N.L. Central, have set a pattern — the front office accumulates veteran hurlers, then swaps them out for younger pieces. This has occurred in each of the last three years, with Epstein shipping aging arms Paul Maholm, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman hither and yon for younger arms and a handful of prospects and potentials . . .

Now, those swaps are starting to work out, and the future Cubbies are finally beginning to take shape. Fans of the North Siders could see that future on the mound at Wrigley last night, when former Orioles prospect Jake Arrieta continued his remarkable climb to prominence as a solid Cubs starter . . .

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Gio, LaRoche Key Nats 3-0 Win Against The Crew

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

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Gio Gonzalez was anxious to fit back into the rotation, particularly after his first start since returning from the disabled list proved so unsatisfying. But on Monday night in Milwaukee Gonzalez seemed to fit right in, hurling six innings of three hit baseball in leading the Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.

“It was one of those nights where I needed to bounce back,” Gonzalez said following the victory. “I was just proud to see these guys compete and give me a chance to be part of this rotation. Being the odd man out right now, you want to be 100 percent at their level. Seeing the way these guys are throwing the ball, you want to make sure you don’t fall behind.”

Gonzalez admitted after the game that he did not have his best stuff. But he was able to befuddle Brewers’ hitters by ample use of his change-up, which was particularly effective in a difficult bases loaded jam in the bottom of the third. “He was working with changeups,” Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez noted. “We didn’t expect him to be working with changeups. It was a really good pitch for him. He threw the ball well, so we have to give the credit.”

The Nationals stroked seven hits against Milwaukee pitching, five of them against Brewers’ starter Matt Garza. But the big hit in the game came off the bat of Adam LaRoche in the third inning, when the first sacker took a Garza slider deep to center field to give the Nats the only runs they would need. The blast scored Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth.

“In that spot, you’re really just trying to hit something hard and hit something in the air. It just happened to go out of the park,” LaRoche said of his at-bat. “It was one of the few mistakes he [Garza] made.”

The game was not without its controversy. When Danny Espinosa was called out looking at an out-of-the-zone ball in the top of the 2nd, Nationals’ skipper Matt Williams argued the call with umpire Mark Wegner — and was thrown out of the game. Randy Knorr then took over managing the team the rest of the way. This was the first time this season that the normally fiery Williams was tossed.

Once again the Washington bullpen showed why it’s the best in the majors. Aaron Barrett, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were flawless in three innings of work, with Clippard striking out the side in the 9th inning to notch his first save in nearly two years.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Everyone in Milwaukee is yakking about the year that Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy is having at the plate, a line (.331, .397, .520) that puts him in the running for a slot on the National League All Star team. He’s one of the reasons that the Brewers are the surprise team in the N.L. Central . . .

But Lucroy is just one of Milwaukee’s bashers, with a line-up filled with fleet-footed slick fielding singles hitters (like Jean Segura, who scored from first on a wild pitch this last weekend), supplemented by dueling long ball artists (Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez) and swing-and-miss or hit-em-long bombers, like the much-traveled Mark Reynolds . . .

But our favorite Brewer (though, we admit, the bar is low) is Aramis Ramirez, the Crew’s underrated third baseman. Injured most of last year, the Younts limped home in fourth place, fourteen games under .500. But the year before, with Ramirez’s fifty doubles in the line-up (he led the league), the Brewers made a stab at the Central Division flag . . .

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Roark (And The Nats Bullpen) Stump The Braves

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

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Nationals skipper Matt Williams remained his usual unsmiling self after the Nationals bested the Braves on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park, but allowed himself a fleeting moment of semi-humor. “I am going to respectfully not answer that question, if that’s okay,” he said when asked if the Nationals now had momentum in the N.L. East. “I know how this works.”

It’s not superstition exactly, but it’s pretty close: As Williams himself noted, “there’s a long way to go” and “we need to take one game at a time.” But Washington’s 4-1 win and a split in the Atlanta series in front of 39,000-plus Nats fans must have come as a relief to Williams, as it did to the Nationals players.

“Oh yeah, they’ve had our number,” Nats center fielder Denard Span, who got a key hit in the win, said after the victory. “So it’s good to come away with a win today.” The Nationals Sunday win came on yet another strong pitching performance from starter Tanner Roark — and a shutdown bullpen that yielded nadda, zippo, zero (3.2 innings, no hits and three strikeouts) to a tough hitting Braves line-up.

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Roark, who lasted 5.1 innings, did not have his best stuff, but set the tone by holding the Braves to four hits. Roark was frustrating for Braves hitters, who argued several high strike zone calls from home plate umpire Mark Carlson. The Braves Chris Johnson was ejected in the top of the 6th (here’s the video, and we trust you can read lips) and Justin Upton was tossed just prior to the end of the game.

The Nationals put two runs on the board in the bottom of the 1st (on an Adam LaRoche single and a Ryan Zimmerman sacrifice fly), added single runs in the 5th (on a clutch Denard Span double that scored Sandy Leon), and added an insurance run in the 8th when Anthony Rendon scored on a wild pitch.

The Nationals broke out for nine hits in their win on Sunday, but the key to the series split was the team’s pitching — and particularly their relief corps. Storen, Clippard and Soriano all pitched well in the series, but Craig Stammen was the standout, throwing 4.2 innings in relief while giving up a single hit. If we had to pick a hurler to go to Minneapolis for the All Star game, it would be Stammen.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Speaking of superstition — as soon as we wrote that Cincinnati should shovel their bats into a wood chipper they scored eleven runs on Saturday and another four today. This followed the 14-8 stunner on Friday night, in which they led Toronto 8-0 after two, but ended up losing the game . . .

We know how it looks, but we’re going to stick with what we said. Of all the teams in the National League, the Cincinnati Bridesmaids are the most disappointing. They hit more home runs than the Nationals (not a surprise, come to think of it), but can’t seem to put runs on the board when they need to, and seem to fall asleep in big games. It’s a puzzle . . .

The only reason we mention this is that our cheeky coverage of the Redlegs sparked an avalanche of reader emails (well, an avalanche for us), decrying our anti-Cincinnati bias and our “premature prediction” (all predictions are, by nature, premature — but nevermind) in counting them out of the running in the N.L. Central . . .

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Nats Rally Grounds The Astros, 6-5

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

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Anthony Rendon’s tenth home run of the year sparked a Nationals seventh inning rally, and Washington went on to beat Houston on Wednesday, 6-5. The victory marked the return of starter Gio Gonzalez from a stint on the disabled list and marked Washington’s 17th comeback win of the 2014 campaign.

Clutch hitting was the key to the Nationals victory. With his team trailing in the 7th, Rendon took a first pitch 94 mph fastball from Houston righty reliever Josh Zeid to the seats in left center field. Zeid then walked Jayson Werth, who went to third on an Adam LaRoche single to center field. Ryan Zimmerman then grounded into a fielder’s choice.

With Zimmerman on first, Ian Desmond then doubled him to third, Danny Espinosa was intentionally walked and Nate McLouth scored Zimmerman on a sacrifice fly. The McLouth hit capped the Nats scoring on the night, as relievers Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano closed out the game. Soriano notched his 15th save of the season.

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“That’s kind of how we’ve done it all year, not necessarily lately, but we grind out at-bats,” Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth said following the win. “We got some big hits late and came from behind there after a big inning for them.” The victory gave Washington a 1.5 game lead in the N.L. East, as the Braves lost their third in Philadelphia.

Gio Gonzalez seemed unsettled after his return from the disabled list, giving up five hits and four earned runs in five innings of work. But Gonzalez was philosophical about his inconsistencies after the game. “I felt like it was not one of my strongest outings, but it was a step in the right direction,” Gonzalez said. “I’m off the DL is a great sign.

In sealing the mini-sweep against Houston, the Nationals banged out eleven hits against five Astros hurlers. Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa were each two-fer on the night, with six Nationals contributing RBIs.

The Nationals now face Atlanta in an important four game series. “I think we feel good with where we are at,” Washington manager Matt Williams said reflected during his post game remarks. “We really face a difficult team in the next four games. I think it was really important to win this one tonight. We need to look into tomorrow and be prepared for that.

 

Nats Hold Off Astros, Back In The Win Column

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

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Dallas Keuchel is probably the best pitcher you’ve never heard of. Entering Tuesday’s game at Nationals Park, the Houston southpaw (at 8-3 and with a snappy 2.38 ERA) was known for two things: getting great hitters to hit groundballs and getting good hitters to miss them.

But on Tuesday, the Nationals got to Houston’s young lefty, mixing line-drives with a raft of doubles to give the All Star-bound Keuchel his fourth loss of the season. In all, the resurgent Nationals (coming off a four game slump and a sweep in St. Louis) banged out six runs and nine hits on Houston pitching, downing the ‘Stros 6-5.

While the victory propelled Washington back into first place in the N.L. East (but just by a scootch), the win wasn’t as decisive as it might have been. Starter Tanner Roark could not locate his fastball (“my bailout was my curveball tonight,” he confirmed after his outing), while Houston’s impressive array of young hitters rallied against reliever Tyler Clippard, scoring four in the 8th.

Washington starter Tanner Roark lasted just five innings, but took the win, his sixth of the season. “It was a grind. Just one of those nights,” Roark said. “I couldn’t get ahead, but came up with some big pitches. And of course we come out early and score runs so it takes a lot of weight off.”

Washington’s anemic offense, on full display in St. Louis, got hot on Tuesday, with both Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon accounting for five of Washington’s six runs. Rendon doubled twice to drive in three runs, while Zimmerman added two doubles and two RBIs.

Tuesday night’s negative came from Tyler Clippard who had an unusual (which is to say — unheard of) meltdown in the 8th. Following on solid outings from relievers Craig Stammen and Drew Storen, Clippard gave up five hits and four runs in pitching just two-thirds of an inning.

In truth, however, some of Clippard’s difficulties came from facing a Houston line-up that has the best record in baseball since May 22. The 8th showed why so many in the game are suddenly paying attention to the Astros, with Houston’s line-up stacked with a budding superstar second sacker (Jose Altuve) a long ball rookie in George Springer and a left handed hitting gapper in Jon Singleton.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: If the Miami Marlins played all of their games at home they’d walk away with the National League East. On Tuesday night, after losing to the Cubs the night before (and after falling to the Bucs in two of three games), the Marlins rallied for a 6-5 victory behind a three run homer from Garrett Jones . . .

The Marlins are 24-14 at Marlins Park, where it’s still possible to overhear private conversations — and where home runs hit to left field can be picked up by the cleaning crew at the end of a game. Last night, the Marlins played in front of 20,000 fans, not bad (actually) for a team that’s 26th in attendance . . .

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